Years ago, when my husband and I had a car without any kind of tape deck or decent radio, we came up with a reasonable solution – Scott would drive, I would read. One memorable summer, when we drove to Scott’s cousin’s lake house in the Adirondacks every weekend to escape Brooklyn’s intense heat (and our lack of air conditioning), I read aloud “War and Peace”. The long drive became so much more tolerable when accompanied by Tolstoy’s words.
For many years after, road trips became all about how to survive with three children and assorted pets all jammed into a minivan. Our listening turned to Raffi, story tapes, and years and years of Harry Potter.
Last Sunday, we returned to reading aloud. Scott drove and I read Jane Kenyon’s marvelous book, A Hundred White Daffodils: Essays, Interviews, The Akhmatova Translations, Newspaper Columns, and One Poem. Kenyon’s columns for her local newspaper were our especial delights – summer bazaars, church yard sales, preparing the garden for winter, welcoming a gift of a hundred white daffodils. It was such fun to read aloud in that setting again, as New York rolled by and we returned to the traffic clogged highways of New Jersey. I love reading aloud to my sixth graders, but I hadn’t realized that I missed reading aloud selections from our own reading lives. I had spent all summer with Jane Kenyon’s essays and poems, reading and re-reading her luminous, earthy, and wryly funny words. But I had read them silently, to myself, and for myself. On Sunday, I enjoyed them the way all great writing is meant to be enjoyed: read aloud and in the company of someone who loves words just as much.
Reading aloud is definitely not just for kids…